Jacob's Love for Joseph
Jacob loved his second youngest son Joseph very dearly. Even as a young boy, Joseph had shown his great mental gifts and his piety. Since Joseph had also inherited the exquisite beauty of his mother Rachel, it is not surprising that he was his father’s favorite son. Jacob spent much time teaching Joseph everything he had learned from his father and grandfather, and at the academy of Shem and Eber. And Joseph grew up to be very wise and learned. The brothers were jealous of the special favors which their father bestowed upon young Joseph. With misgivings, they viewed Joseph’s company when he joined them at the age of seventeen to become a shepherd like his brothers.
Thus the relationship between Joseph and his brothers became strained. This strained relationship was brought to a climax when Joseph began to tell about his dreams which, by their very nature, affirmed his brothers’ fears that he aspired to rule over them. Once Joseph told them that he had dreamed he had been binding sheaves in the field, together with them, and that their sheaves had suddenly bowed before his own. On another occasion, Joseph told his brothers of having a dream in which the sun and the moon and eleven stars had paid their respects to him.
Jacob warned Joseph against telling such dreams to his brothers, and bade his sons to disregard these dreams, for he did not wish to see strife among them. In his heart, however, he knew that there was truth in Joseph’s dreams, and that Joseph was destined to become a great and powerful ruler.
One day Joseph was staying home with his father, while his brothers were with the flocks near Shechem. For a long time Jacob had had no news from his sons. Worried over their fate, he sent Joseph to find them and bring word from them. Wandering all over the fields in search of his brothers, Joseph met a man who told him that they had moved in the direction of Dothan. Joseph followed them and, indeed, found them there. From afar, Joseph’s brothers saw him approach. They could not mistake his coat of many colors that their father had given him, and their jealousy was aroused. They threw him into a nearby pit. Reuben had planned to take him out eventually, and return him to his father, unharmed. In the meantime, Reuben went off to assist his father. But when he returned to the pit, Joseph was not there, for his brothers had sold him to a passing caravan of Ishmaelite merchants.
Jacob Mourns the Loss of Joseph
Joseph’s brothers soon repented of their action. Unable to tell Jacob the truth, they slaughtered a goat and dipped Joseph’s coat, which they had taken from him, into the blood. Then they sent the blood-stained garment to their father, telling him that they had found it. Jacob recognized the special garb he had made for Joseph, and thought that his favorite son had been torn to pieces by a wild animal. For many years Jacob mourned the loss of Joseph and refused to be consoled.